Merry Christmas...Happy Holidays

I just spent the day drinking, fell asleep and woke up with a hangover. I'll probably finish watching the episodes of Blood + that I still have hanging out here and get some of my actual work done.

I'd like to take a moment to comment on Tokyopop's website. I hate it. I just hate it. I think it's got a really slick design. It looks great on the surface, but it's really hard to access information. It's jaunty. There's no flow to or rhythm to information. You can sometimes find what you are looking for if you know what you are looking for, but what's the fun in that? It's hard to learn about new things on the site, too.

So, Tokyopop gets a "Crappy Manga (Website)" Award from me this Christmas.

Go suck on that. God, I'm crabby.

What manga would you most like to see turned into an anime?

I was originally going to go with Hana Kimi a sweet, gender-bender manga about a Japanese-American girl, Mizuki Ashiya, who secretly attends an all boy's school in Japan in order to be near her idol, track and field star and high-jump champion, Izumi Sano. So, she, as fate would have it, is assigned dorms with Sano, and falls in love with him. Sano, early in the series, realizes Mizuki's true gender and falls for her as well. Neither wants to reveal the truth about the situation, for fear of losing the other person or hurting their close friendship. There are a lot of super cutey moments, a lot of close-calls and a lot of comedic situations. I would LOVE to see this manga made into an anime, but unfortunately/fortunately it has already been televised in two (YES, TWO) different live-action versions. The first version, the one I've seen, is isn't bad at all, and Ms. Shakespeare, is quite fond of it. I have not yet seen the second version, the Japanese live-action drama...but, just from the photos of the cast, I have to say: "GOOD LORD!" The super-hot bishonen cast makes me feel a little wrong...because I'm old and lame. Despite the two live action versions of this manga, I'd like to see an anime, but I won't get So, I have to redirect my answer to this question in a more likely way.

To be honest, the mangas I'd most like to see turned into animes will not be turned into animes...ever. They're pervy, or too graphic. It's the kind of girl I am. No one is going to make Desire(Too young) or Fake (there was the one episode, mind you)or La Esperanca(too young, and too catholic) into animes...although they should.

So, I feel I must be realistic; the manga I'd most like to see turned into an anime is going to surprise at least one person...I'd like to see the American manga Bizenghast turned into an anime.

Bizenghast is one of those rare American mangas that has been embraced by Japanese readers, it is published by Tokyopop, written and illustrated by M. Alice LeGrow. It's a strange little story about a "sick" girl, Dinah, orphaned (as many manga/anime/disney characters are) and being raised in seclusion by her aunt (and an especially creepy caretaker) in the abandoned town of Bizenghast, MA. She is troubled by delusions and/or sees ghosts depending on who's interpreting her "fits." Her only friend is the adorably prince-like Vincent. The two come across a mysterious cemetery and mausoleum in the middle of the night after escaping from Dinah's locked room and become accidentally bound into a contract to appease the souls locked in the mausoleum...the price of breaking the contract is Dinah's death. The story itself isn't written very well, but the artwork (something I do appreciate in manga...I won't read a badly drawn manga, it drives me crazy!) is amazing. The style is a very opulent Gothic Lolita style, with a bit of steam punk and Victorian thrown in for good measure. LeGrow's costuming and architecture is gorgeous, and I think it would make a stunning anime. Tokyopop has already created a stop motion, picture-book sort of anime short of this manga.

Is it great? No. But it would be pretty.

But, I feel bad about picking this manga in a lot of ways...why not pick something I'm absolutely in love with? Well, because the things I am absolutely in love with are a bit too much for the general public, and I don't want to back something that would be nc-17.

Other possiblities I considered:

Because it's sooooo cute and sweet. No sex, no violence, just a girl alone in the world.

Two boys working for a drug store/psychic investigation firm. This is an unfinished series by Clamp...oh, I wish they would finish it; the stories are really very interesting and the series ended abruptly after the third volume.

Why not? Who doesn't like a good gay-romance, ghost hunt, comedy/drama? I do like this series, and I think it would be cute as an's not sexually explicit and it is full of funny misunderstandings and sweet moments.

My suggestion for the next discussion:
Ouran High School Host Club--Manga v. Anime

What manga would you most like to see turned into an anime?

Great question, Shakes! <- Yeah, I'm talking to myself. What of it, huh?

The manga I'd most like to see made into an anime is "Hands Off" by Kasane Katsumoto. It's a cute, short series (If you don't count the prequel, I think it's eight volumes) about a couple of teenage psychics, cousins, Kotarou and Tastsuki, and their not at all gifted, but truly earnest friend Yuuto.

It's a treat of a story. It strikes just the right balance between humor and drama, and I think it's the kind of manga that would appeal to both sexes. I wouldn't really say it's shojo or shounen, which I think is kind of rare in manga for a preteen/teen target audience. What I'm trying to say is it has broad appeal, and I think that's important.

Basically the story goes as such. Kotarou is a really sweet hearted puppy dog of a teenage boy. He's kind of pretty, but he's obsessed with being masculine, and he loves basketball. He had to leave his former school because he was being bullied for being efeminate. He goes to live with his grandpa and his cousin, the dark and brooding Tatsuki.

Tatsuki is a prickly pear. He and Kotarou used to be the best of friends, but something happened and when his cousin comes to stay, Tatsuki is ice cold to him. It turns out that he can see the past of places (usually the awful past) and when Kotarou touches him, it's magnified.

Yuuto is a long haired, womenizing gem of a character. He sits in the middle between Kotarou and Tatsuki. He's not naiive like Kotarou, and he's not cold like Tatsuki. He somehow manages to hold them all together.

If you drew all of your conclusions about Japan based on this manga, you would think it was a horrible place where people frequently cross dress and criminals roam free. This trio does get in a lot of trouble. Kotarou gets kidnapped more frequently than any character I've ever met. I realize this is to showcase Tatsuki's distant dedication to him and Yuuto's commitment to them both. That could get a little tired, if the relationships weren't so strong. As a reader you want to see how the people around Kotarou react to him getting hurt and how he takes it in stride.

Anyway, things happen. These three investigate. Psychic powers are revealed. Friendships are formed. Obviously the psychic powers part is important. It informs the characters. But, it's the strenght of the relationships that make this manga shine.

I think it's a story that would translate very well to an anime series, and I hope it does one day.

Kyo Kara Maoh (Anime) The End!!!

SQUEEEEEEEEE! Well, that is how I feel right now. Have you ever finished an anime and gotten little jabs of happiness? Kyo Kara Maoh is that show for me.

From beginning to end, this has been a dorky, cute thrill ride. I loved all of the characters, and there were a ton of characters. The writers/animators made it predictable enough that I didn't feel high anxiety, but exciting enough that I found myself yelling at the screen:

"Yuri! Fight back! Fight back! Don't let the bad guys win!!!!" Do they win? Well, it's Kyo Kara Maoh, what do you think? It's kind of like asking half-way through a Jane Austen novel if it will have a happy ending.

Of course, silly.

Now this show is about 78 Eps long, and it is a 78 Ep story arc. The episodes are not self contained, so if you choose to work your way through this one, you'll want to be committed.

I really should talk about plot here. I believe I wrote before that this anime is weak on storyline. I still believe that. I mean, it did take about approximately 26 hours of running time to tell a very simple story.

One kid from earth falls through a toilet into the demon realm where he is really king. There are a lot of bishonen around. He accidently gets engaged to a boy. He finds out there used to be a great Demon King who fought some superbad guys/things but was able to seal them away in four boxes. The four boxes start showing up and the superbad guys/things start getting strong again. The new Demon King has to go on some adventures, gather the boxes, learn about himself and his friends, fight a lot and have some life lessons. There is a final standoff. The new Demon King wins and all is well.

Pretty simple. Pretty darn simple, but the show does sustain its momentum all along.

What? A Fake -- Season 2 Manga????!??!?!?

It's like finding a whole new Beatles album or something! I think I'm going to have a Squeezuire!!!! Ha! Ha! I've been writing bad copy all day, and I just heart my little puns.

I have not yet read M's below breakdown, only scanned it enough to get the feeling of a little bit of disappointment.

Hmm, I wasn't disappointed by Matoh's one shot depicting Dee and Ryo's future lives together...but who know's? Something as good as Fake can't be repeated, or can it?

I've read the series like 10 or 15 times and I always want it to go on and on and on and on. It's one of those things that could sustain itself for a long, long time, but again, we shall see.

I'm off to watch Jeopardy, read Fake part Deux, watch Blood + and maybe study up on my Japanese particles. Ugg, man, you got to watch out for those suckers.

Let down?

Waaaaaaah! Okay, it turns out that my squee-filled swoon for Fake may or may not have been premature in some respects. I've been doing fangirl research, and the good news is that there are 5 ? chapters, officially, of a bonus story...I've found four in fanslation. These chapters, entitled Fake Second Season, are running in the Japanese magazine Hug, but because of the author's sudden illness (Matoh is fine...I researched that too), it has been slow arriving. There is also a new reprint of the original Fake already released in full in Japan. The original 7 issues of the series have been reprinted in 5 issues with new side-stories in each one. There is no english language release date for them yet, but they are new...and the series is popular, so I'm crossing my fingers (but not holding my breath).

Here's my review of the Hug magazine fanslations of Fake II: First, it doesn't matter...I love it. I'll be honest, I just don't care how good or bad it is, I get to see Dee and Ryo again. But, I will try to be critical with this review, so...complaint one: not enough flirting! The nice thing about the original was that no matter what dire situation the characters were in (gang warfare, serial killers, etc.) there was always time for a sexual innuendo, or some act of agression on Dee's part. Although a bit of the flirty humor is still there at times, it doesn't tease at the edge of the story like the original. Perhaps it's because the orignal storyline felt so complete in many ways? Is this why there isn't that hint of will-they/won't-they? I don't care that they have...I just want more of it. The characters were so completely developed and real in the original incarnation...I want something more than just a detective story (although it was good), I want to see their relationship as well. When the series left off, everything was brand new, I want to see the compromises and attraction of a new relationship. I want to see the uncertainties of Ryo, the adamant insistance of Dee. This is what I loved about these characters and it seems that this is what was left out of the new far anyway. That said, there was a kiss, and I screamed and ran through the house back and forth for two minutes before returning to look at the next page. Oh, thanks to the manga-powers that be for a new Dee/Ryo kiss. I was damn-near swoony. (Perhaps I'll post soon about why Dee is the man of my dreams?) Ah, lest I get too far away from criticism and back myself into a fangirl dream corner, let's continue.

Matoh's style has changed; her characters, which were always very angular and over the top in terms of style and dress (lush and grapey? Always with the grapes! Grapes everywhere!), have somehow rounded? Now, as I was reading I could hear the imagined grumbles of one very smitten Ms. Shakespeare, but I actually like the new style. The rounder faces are cuter. Even Ted, Drake and JJ, the constant sidekicks, are cuter. Despite the style-change, all of the characters are instantly recognizable. Dee is Dee (Mr. Wonderful)--Ryo is Ryo (Sandra Dee). Matoh has taken the time to make us aware that no amount of time has passed since the last chapter of the original and the new series...I recognize outfits, rooms, everything. I recognized the couch they sit on and the shoes...ah, the very shoes tossed to the floor in the last chapter of the original series (and with that I'm on the verge of a fangirl meltdown again).

In all honesty, it doesn't matter, I'm in some sort of hopeful delirium at this point and nothing can sway me entirely from the flitters of squee that envelop me. I can only hope that there are more chapters to come.

In the meantime, there are 7 issues of Fake on my shelf beckoning me to start all over again. Then I'll write a real review of the original series (Dee heavy, of course), and ask Ms. Shakespeare to do the same. This is a very interesting and complex series, and a groundbreaking work in many ways--at least in terms of yaoi. No series that I've read has really done the same sort of things Fake has done...I don't know if they're afraid of breaking with what is now a fairly formulaic approach to yaoi manga, or if this is just SO different it's in a class by itself? There is certainly something very different about it, from the characters ages (these are 30 something cops), actions and reactions, to the very serious and realistic (no robots) situations to the artwork (angles are strange in this series) and dialog (very convincing)...there's a lot to be gleaned from this series. And no matter how many times I reread the originals, I always find something new and interesting in each read.

Sudden Onset Squee: Fake and (finally) Fake II (Manga)

I had actually planned on discussing an anime, Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, in my post today, but something happened. Something miraculous and, sorry to Moribito--you are a beautiful anime and will be discussed later. Now, on to the very important task at hand:
Fake (1994) and Fake II (2007) by Sanami Matoh.

Now, Gravitation was my first real introduction to the wonders of anime/manga I had, of course, seen bad mecha in the 80s as a child, but those things were aimed at boys...still, I couldn't give two shits about battle robots...not two. My co-pilot, Ms. Shakespeare, introduced me to Gravitation fairly late in a lot of ways...I was in my late 20s when, all of a sudden, yaoi (silent squee for boy love); but not just yaoi, complicated adult plots, tensions (my favorite) and yearnings and secret hidden pasts and all that torturous sexuality...romance characters I could relate to because I'm not the kind of girl someone sweeps off of their feet without risking a punch to the face. Romance was never for me...but this yaoi-business, totally my cup of diet coke (tea is for grammas). Although Gravitation was my first squee-inducing experience with anime and manga, what came next always seems to be the most important manga milestone: Matoh's Fake. Fake is hands-down my favorite manga. I am madly and desperately in love with the characters (two NYC detectives in what must be the gayest police force EVER), the long-drawn-out romantic entanglements, the frustrations, the grit, the crime, the surprising humor and flirtations. The series was published in Japan in 1994 (a long time before yaoi really caught on), but because the last issue was released in 2003 in the US, I was able to buy the whole series at once (I couldn't help it). I have read those 7 issues over and over again; I have dreamed of Dee and Ryo (Dee in particular)...I even bought the one single episode of the (look-worthy but disappointing) Anime. Years after Matoh's last issue of Fake she released an art book with a post script to the series...I ate it all up, along with ANY and EVERY fanfic on the characters. There could never be enough Dee and Ryo in my world. When the series ended I cried. When I reread it, I cry. And just this week I was thinking...maybe I should read Fake.

This morning I was putting off work, and thought I would check to see if the new fansub of Ouran High School Host Club Chapter 66 was up yet, because I needed something to break the ennui of grading and the end-of-semester blues. Ouran is at a crucial point very near the end of the manga series, so I'm a bit obsessed and look for new updates every day. There was nothing new, and no news about when the new fansub would be posted. So, I don't know what lead me to this, but I thought..."Maybe I should see if there's anything new by Matoh." I was looking for another series, anything by this funny and remarkable manga-ka. After all, Fake had been on my mind.

Then...SQUEEEEEEE! Just this year, Matoh has taken up the Fake saga again and is working on a new ongoing series: Fake II. It's been almost 15 year since the original series was released in Japan, and now I get new stories, new dramas, and new make-out scenes with Dee and Ryo! Bubbling over with squee, and unable to contain the outpouring, I called Ms. Shakespeare who was posing as a mild-mannered, very red-haired, office worker on the other side of the country (2,200 miles away) to share the news.

So far, I have read the first chapter, 39 pages, and can bring myself to read no more. I am too overcome with squee. It's too much for one girl to handle. I have to say that despite the subtle changes in Matoh's style over the years, these characters are still the same lovely, awkward and quick-to-respond characters from the old series: they have remained true to those "selves" in remarkable ways. So, this fangirl is ecstatic...please let there be more Fake II on the horizon and never let it end. The series, on Mangafox, is labelled ongoing...I can only hope this is true.

In the meantime, although my life cannot be put on hold, I plan to read these cherished new chapters slowly...painfully order to savor this new bliss, and preserve that squee for the trying days of composition papers ahead.

Earthian: The Angelic Collection (OVA)

There comes a time in every fangirl's life when Earthian must be watched. I've been putting it off for years now.

Here are my reasons: 1) Yun Kouga is one of my favorite mangakas. I've talked about Loveless here in glowing tones. It's a truely amazing manga and all around story. I don't want to be disappointed by a grand failure. 2) I've heard that Earthian, the manga, is better than the OVA. Nope. I haven't read it yet. I know, I know, I should. How can I call myself a yaoi fangirl if I haven't read such a "foundational" work? Well, like I've said before, I'm more of an academic fangirl with a lot of inner squee, but I haven't quite crawled to the top of geek mountain nor have I fallen off of it yet (and no, I don't expect that to mean anything to anyone). The point is, I've always planned on reading it, but never seemed to find the time...Oi. 3) The OVA animation has always looked terrible to me. Yes, Yes, I do love the crap anime, but I have to be in the mood, and I always seem to be coming off the tail end of some other crap anime. Boy was Earthian lucky though, because last night I found some time to watch the first two of four OVA episodes.

And, here is my biggest observation: they are "the suck." I hate the animation. I find Chihaya to be about the most annoying uke I've ever had to watch onscreen. It's just painful. He's weak and overly "sensitive" to the point of pure stupidity. I can't relate to him.

And, I can't relate to his partner, Kagetsuya, either. He spends much of the first episode acting really annoyed with Chihaya, too, but instead of just leaving him to molder and die (like I would) he continually follows him around on his painfully boring adventures.

So, they're angels, these two, and they investigate the good and the bad parts of human/Earthian society. Chihaya claims to love humans, but as far as I can see, he mostly hangs out with humanoids who have been created by mad scientists and junked out rock star Lucifers (fallen angels). These angels don't have any superpowers. They just have wings. And, in what I am certain is the surest indication that an anime will be a crap anime, when they reveal their wings, their hair grows and they get angel outfits. I'm sorry but long hair and fancy outfits don't fight crazy monsters and henchmen.

Whenever these two encounter henchmen, and that is often, Chihaya almost immediately gets captured and starts calling out Kagetsuya's name. Kagetsuya dodges some bullets, punches some people and rescues Chihaya. Yawn. Totally boring, but this seems to be the gist.

I've heard there are some sexy bits, as these two are also gay for each other. And, man or man, do I love gay sex --I'm not being sarcastic at all -- but I've been around the yaoi block enough to not have much patience for a story that lacks payoff. So, I guess there's probably some kissing and stuff. Yeah! I just don't know if I have the heart to sit through the rest of this and find out.

Guess I'll just have to read the manga.

Bleach (Anime) Thru 68

Yes, you can call me obsessive. I don't mind at all. I'm now on Bleach Ep 68. And, yes, that's 10 Eps since yesterday, but hear me out.

1) I slept a good night's sleep

2) I went to work today, got caught up in the commute, watched Jeopardy and ate plenty of food.

In conclusion: though I obsess, I still manage. It's all good.

Anyway, in the most recent 10 episodes, the show has finally gone back to being more of a teenage, highschool Soul Reaper "dramedy." Well, it did or it had for a couple of episodes, and I was really happy about that. I love the hard core fighting and the kind of heroic desperation that comes along with that, but I also like enjoying a few laughs and just catching a glimpse of the everyday realities that make the characters so endearing and well, so awesome when they do step it up.

I was happy to see that Renji was assigned to "the real world." I like him infinitely more than Rukia. Listen, I like Rukia too, but she did get kind of wussy in the last half of the Soul Society/execution story arc. I suppose she had every right (she was facing death), but I liked her so much more when she was just a bit more bad ass and self-confident. Few things are more annoying to me than strong women who just kind of disintegrate. I'm sure she will recover and return as awesome as ever, but like I said, I like the foil of Renji just fine.

The story is taking another turn I'm not so sure about. Just as we leave the turmoil of the Soul Society (along with the introduction of about a kigillion new characters), the plot is complicated by the introduction of three Mod Soul characters who play psychological tricks on our motley crew. Meh, I don't like these episodes at all. They are kind of high stress with little payoff, and I'm hoping the story line doesn't go on forever.

I'm way more interested in seeing Ishida deal with the loss of his Quincy powers. I'm sure that will come up soon.


In other news, I passed my Japanese class, and I still barely understand anything. Boo.